Passage: 1 Peter 1:3-9; 3:13-15
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
While many of us initially expressed hope about what changes 2021 would bring, it’s already looking like 2021 will be unable to carry the weight of the hopes we’re placing on it. Thankfully, the gospel gives us a hope that is rock solid, and it changes everything.
1 Peter 1 begins with Peter boundlessly rejoicing in the “living hope” that the gospel brings. Though writing to “exiles,” faced with “various trials,” Peter reminds his readers that they’ve been adopted by a wealthy father, and that, through his generosity, they now await a rich, future inheritance—all the blessings of life with God in a new heavens and a new earth! This inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for (us)”—and we ourselves are being “guarded” for it (1:4-5). This hope is therefore guaranteed—as solid as the death-defeating resurrection of Jesus himself is solid. Christians would do well today to think more, not less, of their future home, and doing so fortifies us in the midst of our trials today, helping us engage them with hope and confidence.
This gospel hope transforms our lives now as well. Peter’s aim is not to “medicate people out of this present world, but to transform them to persevere in it.” He does this by showing us how the gospel gives us a new perspective on our trials—they last only “for a little while,” in the grand scheme of things, and will be followed by glory—and by reminding us of how trials serve to refine us, testing and building our faith, as they burn away our false dependencies.
Finally, the hope of the gospel speaks to a world that needs it. Because people are always looking for some kind of hope to latch on to, our solid gospel hope will be attractive to the people around us. We should therefore be prepared to share with the world about the reason for, and source of our hope (3:13-15). It is, after all, their only hope as well.
- Hope is a Gospel Guarantee (1:3-9)
- Hope Transforms Our Lives Now (1:6-7)
- Hope Speaks to a World That Needs It (3:13-15)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (1 Peter 1:3-9; 3:13-15)
Hope is a Gospel Guarantee (1:3-9)
Q) Re-read 1 Peter 1:3-9. How would you describe the “tone” of this paragraph? What clues do these verses give as to the circumstances that Peter’s readers were facing?
Q) Re-read verses 3-5, and meditate on them together, while working through some of these questions:
- What is the “inheritance” Peter is referring to? And what do you think is the significance of it being called an “inheritance”?
- What are some characteristics of this inheritance? How reliable/certain is it? How does this description give us hope?
- Why is our hope described as a living hope?
Q) These verses are unashamedly future-oriented. How often do you think about your future hope, as a Christian—particularly, life with God in a new heaven and a new earth? Why are we sometimes slow to think about our future hope?
Q) What is one element of your future hope (life with God in a new heaven and a new earth) that excites you, or that you long for right now? How might that aspect of your future hope bring fresh perspective and fortitude to your current trials? Try to be as specific as possible.
Q) What do you think would be some characteristics of a whole church that meditated deeply on its future hope?
Hope Transforms Our Lives Now (1:6-7)
Q) Re-read verses 6-7. What does Peter say are some of the present benefits that his readers’ trials are working in them?
Q) How natural is it for you to “rejoice” in the midst of a trial? Have you ever had experience of “rejoicing” in the midst of a trial, because of the transformation God was working in you through it?
Q) In the sermon, Richard said that God uses trials to refine the purity of our faith by “burning away our other dependencies.” Can you think of an example of how God has used, or is currently using, a trial in your life to burn away a (false) dependency from you?
Hope Speaks to a World That Needs It (3:13-15)
Q) Re-read 1 Peter 3:13-15. In these verses, Peter seems to expect that his readers will be asked “for a reason for the hope that is in them”—even by those who are persecuting them. Have you ever been asked “for a reason for the hope that is in you”? If so, how did you respond?
Q) Peter says we should feel “prepared” to give a reason for our hope. How prepared do you feel to explain your hope to someone who is not a Christian? What might you practically do to grow in your preparedness?
Q) CASE STUDY: Imagine you’re having a conversation with an extended family member, who is not a Christian. They share with you, somewhat jokingly, “I’ve been purposefully guarded about my hopes for 2021. Call me cynical, but my strategy is just to expect the very worst—that way I can’t get disappointed. After 2020, my expectations for 2021 literally couldn’t have been lower. Though all that stuff that went down at the capitol was messed up, I’m literally not even that bummed…like, what else did you expect? Anyway—like I said—my strategy: have the lowest possible expectations and you’ll never be let down.” Based on this week’s sermon, how might you “gently, and with respect” converse with them?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.